List of Academic Departments, Schools, and Programs

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Dating when instruction in disciplines originated at the College of William & Mary can be challenging due to holes in the pre-1888 documentary evidence. For most of William & Mary’s history there were no departments and the courses offered were those the faculty at the time could teach. The Royal Charter stated that the purpose of William & Mary was to be "a certain place of universal study, or perpetual College of Divinity, Philosophy, Languages, and other good Arts and Sciences." Despite their inclusion in the charter, these subjects were not always taught and were naturally duly revised over time.

The modern College of William & Mary began in 1888, with the reopening of William & Mary (it had been closed since 1881) and it is from this period that the current understanding of departments stems. At the reopening in 1888, the Board of Visitors stipulated that there should be five departments at William and Mary: moral science, political economy, and civil government; English language and history; mathematics; ancient and modern languages; and natural science. A condition of the reopening was also that William & Mary would train men to become teachers, and therefore teacher education was a part of the curriculum as well. The seven professors at William & Mary at that time, also known as the Seven Wise Men, were the beginning of the modern departments.

More information about the curriculum prior to 1888 can be found by consulting the list of past faculty.

Academic Departments

Name Date of founding Catalog volume # Notes Date disbanded
Aeronautics 1931-1932 1934
Africana Studies 1997-1998 91 Founded as the Black Studies Program. A Black Studies Program was a concentration in Interdisciplinary Studies in the catalogs from 1974-1975 until 1983-1984.
American Studies 1983-1984; 1990-1991 77; 84 Part of Interdisciplinary Studies in 1983-1984; moved out of Interdisciplinary Studies in 1990-1991.
Anthropology 1952-1953 (1967-1968) 62 (47) Anthropology was part of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology from 1952 until 1967, when it became its own department.
Applied Science 1970-1971 65
Art & Art History 1906-1907 1 The Department of Art and Art History was founded as the Department of Drawing and Manual Arts, whose courses included technical drawing and one course on art appreciation and history. In 1917 the department's name was changed to the Department of Fine Arts.
Biology 1905-1906 (1888-1889) 1905-1906 (1888-1889) Biology was taught as part of the department of Natural Science, which was organized in the 1888-1889 school year when William & Mary reopened. The Department of Biology was separated from the Department of Natural Science in 1906.
Chemistry 1906-1907 (1888-1889) 1 Chemistry was taught as a part of the Department of Natural Science, which was organized in the 1888-1889 school year when William & Mary reopened. It became its own department in the 1906-1907 school year.
Classical Studies 1920-1921 (1888-1889) 15 (1) When the College reopened in 1888, Latin and Greek were taught in the Department of Ancient and Modern Languages. Beginning in 1892, there were separate departments of Latin and Greek; these were merged into a Department of Ancient Languages in 1920-1921.
Computer Science 1977-1978(1970-1971; 1984-1985) 71 (65; 78) In 1970, the Department of Mathematics started a heading called "Computer Science" in the catalog. In 1977, the Department of Mathematics was renamed the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science. In 1984, the Department of Computer Science was founded.
Economics 1906-1907 (1888-1889) 1 (1888-1889) Founded as the Department of Economics and Political Science in 1906-1907. There was a Department of Moral Science, Political Economy, and Civil Government, when the College was reopened in 1888.
English 1898-1899 (1888-1889) 1 (1888-1889) A Department of English and History was organized in the 1888-1889 school year when William & Mary reopened. In 1898, this was split into the Department of American History and Politics and the Department of English Language and Literature and General History.
Environmental Science and Policy 1974-1975; 1995-1996 68; 89 Founded as part of Interdisciplinary Studies in 1974. It was moved out of the Interdisciplinary Studies in 1995-1996.
Film Studies 1998-1999 92
Geology 1962-1963 57
Global Studies 2006-2007 99
Government 1888-1889 (1922-1923; 1943-1944) (19; 38) There was a Department of Moral Science, Political Economy, and Civil Government, when the College was reopened in 1888. The Marshall-Wythe School of Government and Citizenship was founded in 1922, which included the School of Government and the School of Law. The department was organized in 1943-1944.
History 1898-1899 (1888-1889) (1888-1889) There was a Department of History and English when the College reopened in 1888. In 1898, this was split into the Department of American History and Politics and the Department of English Language and Literature and General History.
Home Economics 1918-1919 13 1972 or 1973
International Relations 1983-1984 77 Founded as a part of International Studies.
Kinesiology & Health Sciences 1920-1921 15 Founded as the Department of Physical Training and also known as the Department of Physical Education and the Department of Kinesiology. In 1944, the Department of Physical Education is split into the Department of Physical Education for Men and the Department of Physical Education for Women. These departments were combined in 1975.
Library Science 1931-1932(1926-1927) 26 Founded as a part of the Department of English in 1926. Became its own department in 1931. 1947
Linguistics 1976-1977; 1995-1996 70 Founded as part of Interdisciplinary Studies; moved out of that department in 1995-1996.
Literary and Cultural Studies 1973-1974 (1960-1961) 67 (55) Started as the Humanities Department, which offered 1 class on the interpretation of 10 works of classic literature. In 1973 the Comparative Literature Program was organized and the Humanities Department disbanded. In 1995, the Comparative Literature Program became the Literary and Cultural Studies Program.
Mathematics 1888-1889 1888-1889 Organized in the 1888-1889 school year when William & Mary reopened.
Medieval and Renaissance Studies 1975-1976; 1990-1991 69; 84 Founded as the Medieval Studies Program as part of Interdisciplinary Studies, and mentioned from 1975 until 1984. Restarted 1990-1991.
Military Science 1947-1948 42 Founded as the Department of Military Science and Tactics.
Modern Languages 1908-1909 (1888-1889) 3 (1888-1889) Starting in 1888, there was a Department of Languages, which included modern and classical languages. From 1905 to 1908, languages were taught each in their own Department. Starting in 1908, all modern languages (ie, not Greek or Latin) were taught in the Department of Modern Languages.
Music 1924-1925 (1920-1921) 15 (11) W&M first offered musical education in 1920; however, this only lasted for two years and only taught basic musical lessons. In 1924, the department was restarted, offering a more complete curriculum.
Neuroscience 2002-2003 95
Philosophy 1906-1907 (1888-1889) 1 (1888-1889) In 1888 the Philosophy Department was part of the Department of Moral Science, Political Economy, and Civil Government. In the 1906-1907 school year the Philosophy department was founded.
Physics 1906-1907 (1888-1889) 1 (1888-1889) The teaching of Physics was part of the Department of Natural Science beginning in 1888. In the 1906-1907 school year the Physics department was founded.
Psychology 1943-1944 (1888-1889, 1908-1909) 38 (1888-1889;3) In 1888 Psychology was part of the Department of Moral Science, Political Economy, and Civil Government. In 1905, Psychology was part of the Department of Philosophy. In 1908, that Department was renamed the Department of Philosophy and Psychology. In 1943, the Psychology Department was founded.
Public Policy 1983-1984; 1990-1991 77; 84 Founded as a part of Interdisciplinary Studies; moved out of that department in 1990.
Religious Studies 1923-1924; 1968-1969 18; 63 Begun as the Department of Biblical Literature and Religious Education in 1923. However, it disappeared in 1934, and was reestablished in 1968.
Sociology 1922-1923 (1932-1933) 16(26) Sociology began as a part of the Department of Philosophy and Psychology in 1922. It became its own department in 1932 and was part of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology from 1952 until 1967.
Theatre, Speech, and Dance 1963-1964; 2002-2003 (1926-1927; 1934-1935) 58; 95 (21; 30) The Department of Theatre, Speech, and Dance began as Public Speaking and Dramatics, which was a part of the English Department, in 1926. In 1934, Theatre moved to the Department of Fine Arts. In 1963, the Department of Theatre and Speech was founded. Dance was first taught at W&M in 1942. The Concentration in Dance was created in 1968 as part of the Physical Education Department. The Dance Department was created from the Physical Education Department in 1988 and merged to form the Department of Theatre, Speech, and Dance in 2002.
Women's Studies 1990-1991; 1991-1992 85 (84) The Women's Studies Program was created in Interdisciplinary Studies in 1990 and was moved out of that department in 1991.

Schools

Name Date of founding Notes
Arts & Sciences 1693
Law 1953-1954 (1779; 1922-1923) George Wythe became the first law professor in North America in 1779 and served until 1789; the chair was occupied from then until 1861, when it was abandoned. Notable people to hold the chair include St. George Tucker and Nathaniel Beverley Tucker. The Marshall-Wythe School of Government and Citizenship was founded in January 1922 and contained a School of Jurisprudence. The school awarded the Bachelor of Civil Laws degree, a postgraduate degree that is the predecessor to the Juris Doctor. In 1953, the School of Jurisprudence was redesignated the Marshall-Wythe School of Law, with Dudley Woodbridge as dean. The College began offering the J.D. degree in 1967.
Business 1968-1969 (1919-1920) In 1919, the first business classes at the College were offered. From 1922 until 1935, it was known as the School of Economics and Business Administration; however, it operated as a standard undergraduate department. This School was abolished in 1935. The current School of Business Administration was founded in 1968.
Education 1961-1962 (1888-1889) Formal education of teachers began in 1888 with the "Act to Establish a Normal School at William and Mary College in Connection with its Collegiate Course." Hugh Bird, one of the Seven Wise Men, was hired as the professor of pedagogics. The School of Education was founded in 1961, with Howard K. Holland as dean.
Marine Science 1961-1962 (1940-1941; 1959-1960) In 1940, the College and the Virginia Commission on Fisheries established the Virginia Fisheries Laboratory. In 1959, this program was changed into the Department of Marine Science, created out of the Department of Biology. In 1961, the Department of Marine Science was elevated to the level of School of Marine Science, with William Hargis as dean.

References

  • Godson, Susan, Ludwell Johnson, Richard Sherman, Thad Tate, and Helen Walker. "The College of William and Mary: A History." Williamsburg, Virginia: King and Queen Press, 1993.
  • Catalog of the College of William and Mary

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A Note About The Contents Of This Wiki
The information available in this wiki is the best available from known documents and sources at the time it was written. Unfortunately, many of the early original records of the College of William and Mary were destroyed by fires, military occupation, and the normal effects of time. The information available here is the best available from known documents and sources at the time it was written. Information in this wiki is not complete as new information continues to be uncovered in the Swem Library's Special Collections Research Center and elsewhere. Researchers are strongly encouraged to use the Special Collections search tools for their research as the information contained in this wiki is by no means comprehensive.